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Brexit: Concern over plan for wine import papers

Dozens of UK wine merchants and retailers have called on government to scrap plans for new post-Brexit import papers, warning they already face higher costs and drinkers will lose out.

Post-Brexit plans to introduce paper import certificates on EU wines from 1 July are ‘worrying’, according to a letter sent to Victoria Prentis MP, the UK’s under-secretary of state for farming, fisheries and food.

Requiring the certificates on top of the extra administration already caused by Brexit ‘will make wine more expensive for the consumer,’ said the letter, dated 24 February.

It was shared on Twitter by Daniel Lambert, of the namesake wine importer and wholesaler.

The letter includes dozens of signatories, such as Accolade Wines, Liv-ex and supplier group Bibendum, with a range of retailers and merchants, including Fine & Rare, Farr Vintners, Lea & Sandeman and The Wine Society.

Its focus is the UK government’s plan to introduce a ‘simplified import certificate’ for EU wines, as set out by the Brexit deal.

‘This would cause great damage to wine importing and retailing, as well as to hospitality, where over 60% of all wines sold are from European countries,’ the letter states.

At the centre of the issue is the so-called VI-1 certificate, required under EU law on wines coming into the bloc from non-member countries.

It was initially feared that Brexit would mean VI-1s being necessary for all wines crossing the English Channel in both directions – which could have cost the UK industry an extra £70m, according the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

But the Brexit deal included a grace period, with the UK then set to introduce simplified forms from 1 July.

The letter’s authors said wine is a low margin business and any extra administration adds to costs.

They said Brexit has given the UK government ‘an opportunity to remove entirely the requirement for VI-1s and for the EU simplified certificate’.

They said this move could ‘help our industry to survive in what are very challenging times’.

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